With so many breweries popping up all over the Front Range, it’s hard not to find a great craft brew. But it can be hard to choose which brewery is worth your precious time and money. Here, some of the city’s best beer makers, by category to suit your mood and preference.

If you’re looking for a new patio hangout, tryDeclaration Brewing Co.

Due in large part to the 300(ish) days of sunshine we enjoy each year, Denver is full of excellent patios. Declaration Brewing, a newcomer to the brewery scene, is tucked away on a side street off South Broadway. Complete with outdoor seating (plus umbrellas), ping-pong tables, and a grassy lawn (perfect for a game of corn hole), Declaration’s 5,000 plus foot beer garden (a better version of the patio) is a “must” for any blue sky afternoon.

(Check out our nearly hour-by-hour patio guide to catching rays this summer)

If you’re looking for (mostly free) live music, tryBlack Shirt Brewing Co.

This brewery, best known for its “all red everything” tap list (including red ales, saisons, and porters), also hosts live music virtually every weekend throughout the summer on its backyard stage. Grab a Colorado Red Ale and discover local musicians like Church Fire & The Milk Blossoms (Saturday, June 13), The Crooked Streets & Midwestern Rebellion (July 17) and others throughout concert season.

If you’re looking for neighborhood digs, try…Platt Park Brewing Company

Tucked in Platt Park and situated on South Pearl Street, Platt Park Brewing is the definition of a neighborhood brewery. Housed in what used to be an antique cash register store, Platt Park Brewing serves up a rotating list of beers brewed using everything from Kaladi Brothers Coffee to Jasmine rice. We suggest snagging one of the small front patio’s coveted stool seats and ordering a taster paddle (six 4-ouncers for $9).

If you like breaking a sweat before your suds, try…Copper Kettle Brewing Company

Copper Kettle includes plenty of running and beer in its Copper Kettle Brew Run, a 5-kilometer race on June 13th. The out-and-back route winds along the flat High Line Canal trail and ends with a beer back at Copper Kettle. The $25 race fee includes entry, a Copper Kettle beer and glassware. If a 5K isn’t challenging enough, try running the course in under 25 minutes—while holding (and not spilling) two water-filled growlers. Successful racers win a free growler fill-up. Stay for the GABF gold-medal winner Mexican Chocolate Stout and leave with a growler (or two) of Charlie’s Golden Strong.

(Bonus: Even more running groups that end deliciously)

If you love flights, tryEpic Brewing Company

Epic Brewing’s beer series (including the classic, elevated, and exponential series) can make it hard to decide on just one pint. We say go for the build-your-own flight of three: The Escape to Colorado IPA from the classic series is a solid and hoppy brew definitely worth a spot on the flight. Check out the “Brainless on” styles from the exponential series, including “Brainless on Peaches” (and cherries or raspberries), which are both sweet and strong (read: higher ABVs).

If you’re a book and beer lover, tryFiction Beer Company

Fiction Beer Company teaches us that beer and books are a perfect combination: Head up to the bar, made entirely out of books, and order from a list of beers inspired by books. The menu, which reads like a novella, includes classics like “Old Bums and Beat Cowboys,” a Pale Ale inspired by Jack Kerouac’s On the Road and “Feely Effects,” a green tea chocolate milk stout inspired by Aldus Huxley’s Brave New World. Don’t miss the well-stocked bookshelf: the take-a-book, leave-a-book policy lets you leave an old favorite and pick out something new.

If you’re all about location, try… Denver Beer Co.

In between LoHi and LoDo and with easy access to the Platte River Trail, Denver Beer Co. is perfectly situated for a summer excursion. And it’s currently pouring one of our favorite summer beers: the Sun Drenched Ale. The part-American wheat, part-IPA beer has both hops and a mellow wheat taste, culminating in a very drinkable beer, best enjoyed in the sunshine. The sweet Princess YumYum, a raspberry Kölsh weighing in at 4.8 ABV, is worth a taste, and try ordering that with a straight face. And if you’re looking for a way to burn off the craft beer calories, join Denver Beer Co.’s running club, taking place on Tuesday evenings at 6 p.m.

(It’s not too late to get your Denver passport, and drink your way through summer on the cheap)

If you aren’t a beer drinker (gasp!), tryStem Ciders

We (kind of) get it. Even in a craft beer mecca like Denver, not everyone is a beer drinker. Enter Stem Ciders, located in RiNo, tucked behind Mile High Winery. This isn’t your typical hard cider. Stem pours hopped hard ciders (Remedy), red wine barrel-aged ciders (Le Chene) and dry ciders (Crabby Neighbor), to name a few. Flight it up for a taster of a few different styles. There’s always time for a full pour of your favorite sample. Also catch a taste of Stem Ciders at TheBigWonderful’s Friday Night Bazaar, happening in RiNo every Friday evening.

Sarah Banks
Sarah Banks
Sarah produces, photographs and researches the photography in the print edition of 5280. In addition, she photographs and writes for 5280.com.